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Mountain Men raises authenticity questions with each new show

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

As the History Channel reality series Mountain Men goes forward, more questions arise regarding reality vs. television.

The depiction of the History Channel’s Mountain Men becomes more suspect the more one searches for information on the reality television show.

Turtle Island Preserve was founded by Mountain Men cast member Eustace Conway. He does seem to be the “real deal” as far as loving and living on the land is concerned. Visitors to the Turtle Island Preserve website are greeted thusly:

“We live, teach, breathe and believe in nature's governing truths. We interact with the beautiful clarifying teachings of nature as we interpret it's story. We are more about doing it than talking about it. We invite you to visit us and experience all that is Turtle Island!"

There are many programs available on Turtle Island Preserve, from camping to spoon carving to tree-house building. According to the website, “The programs at Turtle Island Preserve are powerful and effective. We dig deep reaching profound connections within us, touching our ancestral roots. ‘SIMPLY REAL’, we touch the sources of life directly, unshielded from nature's truths. Intimate and personal, we experience relationship building with the foundational essence of our existence.”

But, these programs are pretty pricey. The spoon-carving class comes in at $95; tree-house building $250; 5-day adult camp $650; and if you want a meal on-site during an activity that does not include one already, you’ll plunk down another $15. Plus, if you see Turtle Island Preserve as suggested on the website—“The easiest way to see Turtle Island Preserve is to schedule your own personal Horse Drawn Carriage Ride with Eustace! This is great for those people who want to come to Turtle Island but just can't wait for the next Open House!”—you’ll pay $75 for one person, $65 for two or more people for an up-to-two-hour ride.

Making a Living on Mountain Men

There is nothing, of course, wrong with charging for services. Everyone has to make a living, after all—nothing wrong with making an honest living. But, Mountain Men recently insinuated that Conway’s ability to make actual cash was extremely limited, and depicted him frantically chopping firewood in an attempt to make enough money to pay his property taxes. Plus, the History Channel is not particularly open about others on the Turtle Island Property with Conway. “Interns come to Eustace to learn the old ways of living with nature in a self-sustaining society,” says Conway’s bio on the History Channel website, with no reference to the money-making programs available. And, on the show itself, statements are made such as the one last night, “Eustace calls his land ‘Turtle Island.’ The 1,000-acre plot requires a great deal of upkeep. So, he trades room and board for maintaining it.” One can assume that this refers to the internships on the property, since Justin, featured on the program, is listed as an intern by the History Channel. But, The fact that they have these other money-making programs in place is avoided in discussions about the upkeep of the property, and statements such as this one insinuate to the viewer that all activities on the property are not money-making but bartered as a way for Turtle Island Preserve to continue to function.

It is possible, of course, that not a lot of people are signing up for the classes on Turtle Island Preserve, and that there isn’t a lot of income from the programs offered. But, if that is the case, why not be upfront and address it? But, as one Huliq reader commented recently:

Why is Eustace not paying his taxes, It's not like he is not making any money. Look up Turtle Island Preserve and see all the camps he has and what he charges. $95 for a spoon carving class. The show makes it seem like he has no income except for cutting down trees and selling it for firewood.

The longer this show goes on, the more staged it appears—not a good sign for the longevity of Mountain Men.

Oh, and by the way: Last night, Eustace kept saying his gun "misfired." Clearly, it did not. When a gun "misfires," there is no discharge; "misfiring" does not mean that a gun's sights are off, which is the way he appeared to be using it. Makes one wonder, in fact, whether or not Eustace Conway is the "real deal" after all.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Will Eustace keep his land in Season Two?
Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Eusluess, you are a complete moron. I'd like to suggest you diversify your spoon carving portfolio to include toothbrush making. Believe it or not, using them is really easy once you get the hang of it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
you have to admire the guy for wanting to be off the grid, and to take advantage of the free-flowing steams as a source of power, but i have spent some time on sawmills, and there's no way physically possible for the tiny little water generator to provide enough power to run his mill. the saw-dust drag ? maybe. in quick views you can see what appears to be a gasoline engine ( like the front end of a tractor which includes gas tank, engine, radiator, clutch and pto ) that is more likely the source. think about it.... most table saws require a 2-hp electric motor to saw thru a 2 or 3 inch thick piece of pine..... you're looking at a minimum of a 45 to 50 hp to run a large blade thru hardwood logs. shame on the history channel.

Submitted by Rory (not verified) on
Well maybe the generator powers the block heater on his tractor engine, or maybe Preston was tasked with installing the generator and didn't want Eusless to yell at him since it didn't work so he convinced him it works as intended while secretly siphoning gas from the neighbor's car to run the mill.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
It looks like any second it's going to squish one of those pasty kids with dredlocks. Now I'm not saying the loss of a stoner hippie with dredlocks is necessarily a bad thing, but I don't feel like seeing it happen. Meanwhile, has there been anything that Useless has done that was anachronistic? I bet he has a sweet X-box setup in his theater room. There is a good reason we don't see inside the house. It's probably festooned with tech gadgets and modern appliances. Hey, Useless! Tell one of your indentured servants to bring out the iPad. We need to write this stuff down!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I believe Tom and Marty to be the real deal. But, I don't agree with the way Tom treats Ellie and I think Marty does some "not to brite" things. Eustace ! Here is a complete phony. I'm sure there is someone out there who would have made a better character for the show than Eustace.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
This can't be the only place on the net people are talking about this show.

Submitted by NC Lawyer (not verified) on
I actually looked for an email for you. I was going to discuss some of the legal aspects of his case if you are interested.


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